"Words must not lead to imprisonment" - press freedom campaigns at the G20 summit

By ECPMF staff

Normally protesters have to come to the world's movers and shakers, hoping their message will be heard. However it's different in Hamburg these days, where the protest is welcoming the powerful. Germany's media capital is fully committed to confronting the enemies of media freedom at the G20 summit. As presidents Erdogan, Trump, Xi, and Putin arrive on the banks of the river Elbe, representatives of the German press are showing their opposition.

G20 summit Gruner und Jahr press freedom campaign German publishing house Gruner&Jahr showing its opposition to press freedom violations during the G20 summit in Hamburg: "Facts must not be dictated by the state" and "Words must not lead to imprisonment" it says on huge posters (© G&J)

Just as the G20 participants are about to enjoy Beethoven's Ninth Symphony at the Elbphilharmonie concert hall on Friday evening, four massive posters highlighting press freedom concerns are displayed on the facade of the Gruner&Jahr publishing house ("stern", "Geo", "Brigitte"). They show editors-in-chief behind bars and statements like "Facts must not be dictated by the state" and "Words must not lead to imprisonment".

"Maybe Trump will look across at the posters and not think 'fake news' first of all. Or Mister Erdogan might develop compassion for jailed journalists, just for one second,"

says Frank Thomsen, G&J's head of marketing, talking to "W&V". The posters are part of a bigger press freedom campaign with the motto #FightForOurWrite.

"Yücel must be released immediately"

Also not far from the Elbphilharmonie the German Journalist Association (DJV) and the German print and publishing group (DDVG) posted a banner: on the facade of the SPD (social democratic party) media holding it says "#Free Deniz - Free all journalists jailed in Turkey!" German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel is one of the most prominent prisoners. "His only 'crime' was critical and independent journalism,” says DJV chairman Frank Überall. "He must be released immediately."

"The social-democratic media holding was established almost one and a half centuries ago, to enforce the freedom of the word," adds DDVG director Matthias Linnekugel. "Therefore we cannot be silent today while press freedom is being trampled on everywhere. There was no question for us: we had to take a stand while the G20 summit is getting together in Hamburg."

"Press freedom is the first floodgate to be opened"

"This is about the freedom of all citizens to speak their mind" - German magazine publishers' association's (VDZ) for press freedom

"You can wrestle with the press, but you can't pin down the truth" says the slogan of the German magazine publishers' association's (VDZ) press freedom campaign. "This is about the freedom of all citizens to speak their mind," says VDZ managing director Stephan Scherzer. "Press freedom is the first floodgate to be opened, followed by freedom of expression, freedom of art, freedom of faith, and freedom of science. But democracy, corporate diversity, and prosperity thrive on these values." Two posters with English slogans will be shown around Hamburg during the summit.

As Reporters without Borders reported in the World Press Freedom Index 2017, the conditions for media workers have worsened across the globe. "Anti-media rethoric by leading politicians, restrictive laws and political interference" must be taken into account for that. Throughout the last year, 74 media workers have been killed because of their job, 348 were imprisoned. In both China and Turkey more than a hundred journalists are in jail.

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Source information: This article was originally published by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom –